Mr. Breitbart Goes to Washington
With all the Republican elitist consternation and wind-baggery about the liberty-minded wing of the party trying to defund Obamacare, you'd be hard-pressed to know who's playing for which team these days. Gloria Borger told Anderson Cooper on Thursday that she talked to a "senior Republican" who said Republican leaders were more angry with the defunders than with Obama.
More angry with Ted Cruz and Mike Lee than with President Obama who is tanking our economy and steering our foreign policy ship into dystopian, post-superpower waters? If true, the comment is very instructional about the lack of contrast between the GOP establishment and the Democrats.
"Republicans will get blamed for a government shut down," they say or, "We'll lose the Independent vote," as Karl Rove belly ached in the Wall Street Journal (with the lofty poll conducted by his SuperPAC to prove it). Former McCain advisor Ana Navarro huffed, "I think of it as very destructive and unseemly. Who wants to join a dysfunctional family? So I see why independents would be antagonize by watching this spectacle." As if anyone from the losing McCain campaign should be advising the GOP about winning elections? Nevertheless, the McCain/Romney/Bush wing of the party has abandoned the fight against Obamacare and has instead taken up arms against conservative Republicans.
Rush Limbaugh likes to say, "Liberals always tell you which conservatives they fear the most." The same is true for Republican establishment moderates -- and these days they're all downing handfuls of antacids and scheduling extra therapy sessions at the thought they might have to cede power to the likes of Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and others in the "Wacko Bird" wing of the party.
The late Andrew Breitbart said in his memorable CPAC speech in 2012,
“Everything has changed. Everything has changed in the last few years. Conservatives used to take it and we’re not taking it anymore."
Indeed it has. Social media has decentralized the traditional power structures, but by and large, the Republican establishment missed the sea-change. While the left was busy mastering social media, creating memes, manipulating the news and altering the very moral and cultural fabric of our nation, the GOP has continued with business as usual. Backroom deals in smoke-filled rooms. Seniority. Leadership ruling with an iron fist.
David Brooks pointed this out in a recent PBS Newshour segment,
Two things that are interesting that are happening, especially being talked about this week,” Brooks said. “One, leadership in both bodies, the leadership’s inability to force any discipline. That’s partly because a lot of these people just are not interested in the committee assignments, the normal leverage the leadership has, in part because the earmarks are gone, some of the spending favors.
Breitbart also said, "They think we should sit down and shut up, and that is ending right now," and although he was talking primarily about the left, conservatives have taken that attitude to heart -- and to Congress -- as they have demonstrated little patience for being told to sit quietly until leadership allows them to speak.
The important point that the Republican power brokers are missing -- or perhaps they're not -- is that Cruz, Lee, Paul, et al have learned to play the left's game. They are not satisfied to "take it" from the left, the media, or from their own colleagues if it means compromising the core values they were elected to defend. Breitbart said, "The media class is the wall we have to climb over to make our voices are heard," and this new class of liberty-minded legislators has not only learned to scale the wall, but they've plowed it down beating a path to the people.
Ted Cruz, for example, beat the establishment-backed senate candidate, David Dewhurst, in large part through his extremely successful digital and social media outreach. Cruz has only become more adept at reaching out through social media since his election. Brian Jodice, a digital media specialists writing for Campaigns and Elections described an event at which Cruz dropped a hint that he might run for president. Jodice said the event was not attended by the mainstream media, press cohorts, or even Cruz’s campaign media team. The video clip was tweeted by one lone digital specialist at the event -- Jodice. What happened next shows the power of social media in the right hands:
When the video hit social media, we saw tweets turn into retweets, Facebook posts shared, and the YouTube clip we posted racked up 45,000 views on the FreedomWorks channel. Other people then cut down the video, reposted, and shared virally to the tune of about 85,000 views.
Jodice said that Cruz and his "savvy advisors" used the video as a way to "complement his informal exploration of the presidency." Cruz and a handful of others have noisily clambered onto the playing field previously occupied by Obama for America alone and they are now competing with the big boys.
Understand the way this is supposed to work. People like Karl Rove crunch all the numbers in their Super-Duper Independent-Pleaser computer which spits out the name of the Next-in-Line presidential candidate. No noisy clamberers allowed in this model.
If there is a decision to be made on policy, it must go through the proper channels and be properly announced by the mild-mannered Sen. McConnell, who doesn't frighten the bed-wetting independents. If it's a very serious issue, the McLindseyCain duo is trotted out to recite the official GOP talking points in a way that will rib the president and the Democrats a tiny bit, but never actually rough them up. Because, independents.
But now the pugilistic Tea Party brigade has entered the fray. Their take-no-prisoners style threatens the status quo. They bypass the leadership and go directly to the media and -- the people. Detractors say their inexperience and unwillingness to compromise is hurting the party and will destroy the team's chances in the next election. Karl Rove -- Captain Reasonable -- insists that independents will make Republicans pay at the ballot box if they vote to fund all of the government except for Obamacare. Rove says, it "may be because it is (understandably) hard to see the endgame of the defund strategy."
The end game? The end game is saving the country from fiscal insolvency.
Here's the bottom line: The outspoken conservatives have been effective. The proof is that we are still talking about Obamacare in September of 2013. If not for the Wacko Birds -- and their dominant, sometimes raucous, digital and media presence -- this debate would have been over the day Nancy Pelosi perp-walked her giant gavel to the Capitol upon the passage of Obamacare.
The polls also indicate the new "everything has changed" strategy is working.
Only 39% of Americans now support Obamacare and the numbers continue to plummet. Over the last six months opposition to the law has risen steadily while support has dropped as conservatives have explained to the American people "what's in it" and they realize that it will harm their families and our already-frayed economy. And a stunning 51% of Americans favor shutting down the government in order to defund Obamacare. Margaret Thatcher used to say, "First you win the argument, then you win the vote." Conservatives may very well be winning the argument, if not yet the vote, thanks to the brash new breed of legislators who are saying on behalf of the American people, "We're not going to take it anymore."